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Welcome to Lower Elementary Southeast

Nadine Elmgren

Welcome to our Lower Elementary Classroom! We are a community of active explorers who joyfully spend our days together in an environment that nurtures our love of learning.

Nadine  Nadine@traversechildrenshouse.org


 "Scientific observation has established that education is not what the teacher gives;  education is a natural process spontaneously carried out by the human individual, and is acquired not by listening to words but by experiences upon the environment."  -Dr. Maria Montessori

Nadine Elmgren, Lower Elementary Guide
B.A. Marylhurst College, Portland, OR, Education
AMI Montessori Primary Certification, Northwest Montessori Education Center, Portland OR
AMS Montessori Elementary Certification, Ottawa, Canada
The Children's House experience (1988- present):
Young Children's Community Guide, Primary Classroom Guide, Teacher Mentor & Elementary Classroom Guide


April 12, 2018

Our room continues to be abuzz with activity! Note taking is in full throttle for research for the upcoming Research Fair, which takes place on May 17th. I love sitting beside your children and learning with them and seeing their excitement. One student was measuring the hallway to help him visualize the depth of the Chunnel, another was marking a map of the world’s best dive sights. The variety of topics is huge and all of the children are learning from each other too.

Teams have been formed for the Battle of the Books, which will take place May 18th. Each team has a leader, who is in charge of organizing and calling weekly meetings. The children are meeting weekly with Tara as well. There is a flurry of reading and great discussions going on as your children prepare for this annual favorite.

The upcoming Talent Show on Friday afternoon is another event we are all anticipating. We have a large group of students who are looking forward to performing for our school community.

March 22, 2018

The annual Presidents Day assembly was a wonderful success, thanks to Alison Breithaupt and her cast! Many students from our class donned their costumes, and recited their raps onstage. What a fun way to learn history.

We welcomed the first day of Spring with poetry and tulips. It’s hard to believe that already we are at spring break. There are excited vacationers in our midst, but I am awed with the level of engagement , the independence and the kindness in our community. As I gazed around the room today, one table was full of six children collaborating on a newspaper, a group of three presented their snowy owl research, others were multiplying with products into the millions while one student was out in the hallway measuring 38 feet to picture the size of his shark he’s researching.

I know that a week away from school, enjoying family time will be delightful. I also know what a special learning environment we all share, and I am grateful to guide your children each and every day. Enjoy and see you in April.

March 8, 2018

Thanks to all of you for the time spent at conferences the past couple of weeks. I appreciate the connections made, and know that by partnering together, we best can support your child.

We have continued our focus on writing techniques with lessons on what makes a good paragraph, persuasive essays, and editing. This work will enhance our research fair writing , that we have begun to think about. The children have been invited to select their topic and we will begin organizing outings to the Public Library, for students to gather their resources. There is a ton of excitement in the air as topic ideas are being generated. So far the range includes hot peppers to cavemen!

The Spelling Bee was a rousing success! I was very pleased so many students in our class courageously agreed to participate. Hats off to all them for their participation and the efforts they took to be well prepared.

February 15, 2018

100 days! Thinking back to day one, so much growth has occurred. I am grateful to be in the mix of this vibrant community.

We are winding up the novel Wonder. Many good discussions have occurred around this book. During reading time the children enjoy the opportunity to sketch and knit. Some are using fingers to knit, others looms and we have a few students who are master knitters using needles. Thanks to Jana for sharing her expertise with the students.

The children enjoyed the Caldecott/Newberry gathering this week. It’s neat to see the excitement over books. Snead Bishop’s grandpa, Jack Lee, visits our class each week and listens to students who want to read with him. His list is long, as the children love the opportunity to sit next to him and share a story. The world of reading is magical and I urge each of you to take time daily to read aloud together.

February 1, 2018

We have enjoyed some special events recently! Our trip to Interlochen was delightful. The children loved hearing the books that the Interlochen students had written and read to them. They came back talking excitedly about the beautiful illustrations and wonderful stories. We voted on our favorite book, and Karen Libby once again will generously donate a copy to our class once it is in a hard cover format. We have some inspired writers in our class that are now writing their own books!

The Junior High Students met with us twice last week to present experiments that demonstrated Newton’s Laws. Our students loved seeing these principals at work and trying their hand at the experiments. Peer to peer learning is really motivating for all involved.

Swimming lessons continue to be a favorite. The focus of the last couple of lessons has been water safety. Last week the students practiced boat safety using inflatable boats. This week, they learned about beach safety and what to do in case of a rip tide. Living where we do, these skills are all so important. Diving board fun has begun too!

January 18, 2018

We began our new year together talking about how January is named after the ancient Roman god Janus, the god of beginnings and endings. He is usually depicted with two faces, one looking backwards and the other forward. We all reflected on how our year had begun, and what we wished for during the remainder of the year, and how those thoughts could shape our choices.

During my one on one meetings with the children, we have been looking over lessons that they have had and deciding what they need to follow up and finish up. It’s been good to “clear the cobwebs” after winter break.

The visit with the Interlochen students was terrific. I was impressed with all of the conversation and how eager our students were to share their ideas. We have been discussing the elements of a story and our class will have an opportunity to write and illustrate a short picture book too.

I know that eager swimmers have been disappointed with two weeks of cancellations. I will let you know what we work out for make up lessons as soon as it is set.

December 19, 2017

I just had the gift of a FaceTime call with the class! Each group carefully presented their Festival of Light research, proudly showing me their art as they made they their way around the circle. Their sweet faces, and eyes full of excitement warmed my heart. I loved seeing how the oldest students whispered to the younger ones, when they were stumped reading their report. The love of learning, pride of accomplishment, individual expression and teamwork was evident as I watched each group. The grand finale was a rousing rendition of their song for the holiday sing. What a festive, happy experience to kick off Winter Break!

I wish each of your families an abundance of joy, peace and love as you gather with friends and family over the next couple of weeks. I have an even deeper appreciation of what it means to be a member of The Children's House community after this recent health challenge, and I look forward to all that 2018 brings.

December 7, 2017

The children have been plotting the sunrise and sunset times each morning as the days shorten.  They love watching how the light changes daily.  Our talks began with how ancient civilizations were frightened by the absence of the sun, and held rituals to bring back the light.  Some of our traditions today date back to those early rituals. 

The children are working in groups to learn about 8 different festivals of light. Each group will be writing about the customs and history of their holiday.  Additionally, Alison will be doing an art project with each group.  They may opt to make a costume, learn a dance or make a traditional food from their holiday as well.  Be prepared, you may be recruited to help with baking or sewing at home.  It will be fun to share presentations on the final day before winter break.  

November 16, 2017

In preparation for our annual harvest feast, we have been reading different versions of the stone soup story. The message of the power of the combined efforts of community rings true in each story. The third years are anxiously awaiting the opportunity to drop a stone in the pot, that will be used for our school's soup. The excitement and richness of tradition is strong for the children as we prepare for this favorite event. I am inviting the children to bring their favorite board game or puzzle with them on the 21st, as we will have a special afternoon before our Thanksgiving break begins.

Additionally, we have been reading books about the early Native American tribes in our country. The children have been fascinated with their cultures, how they met their needs, and what good conservationists they were. We've talked about the local tribes as well, Your child may enjoy a trip to the museum in Peshawbestown, or attending the annual pow-wow in August. The Inuit exhibit at the Dennos would be fascinating to them as well.

I am so very grateful to share in the lives of your children each day. I believe that all of the lessons and experiences they have will prepare them to be peaceful contributors to our communities in the years to come. Happy Thanksgiving!

November 2, 2017

As the colder weather is upon us, and we are spending more time indoors, it has been an ideal time to present some new handwork to the children. Jana has done an amazing job of introducing us to working with wool. She told the children the history of wool complete with samples from a variety of animals. Jana organized a visit from Kat Eldrid, who talked through the process of gathering raw wool from the farmer and the steps to prepare it for use. Jana is now in process of setting up a variety of knitting choices for the children to be introduced to in the weeks ahead. If you are a knitter and would like to come in and lend a hand getting everyone started with a project, please let me know!

We have been gathering leaves and classifying them by veins and margins. The children welcome the opportunity to work outside, whether they are collecting leaves or preparing the gardens for winter. They worked with gusto last Friday at the work bee, hauling piles of brush bigger than they are in the wheelbarrow. Despite the cold, drippy day, they were eager to chip in and tackle the work to be done.

Thank you for your time at conferences. I feel fortunate to be a part of community where 100% of the families attended visiting day and conferences.

October 19, 2017

In our classroom, the children's own interests and questions, provide the basis for their explorations. The children are engaged in their quest for knowledge as the subject matter is of interest, and they interrelate their overall knowledge. Some great examples of this arose over the past couple of weeks.

Two students were working on squaring and they were having a tough time remembering the square of 7. As they were running through the multiples of seven to find it, one of them said to the other, "Let's think football scores". That was all they needed to come up with the answer! In a related event, a first year was making a noun list, and having a hard time getting started. As soon as he thought about football, he wondered if his list could be about football terms. Once he realized that was an option, he made more than one list. Finally, during a parts of a river lesson, when a student heard the term delta and its definition of the triangular part of land that is formed, he immediately thought of the airline Delta and the triangular symbol on its jets.

During read aloud we started the year with Misty of Chincoteague, by Marguerite Henry. The children voted unanimously to read the sequel, Stormy, Misty's Foal, which we are currently enjoying. The children are spellbound during this time of day. It's wonderful to see the power of a good book.

October 5, 2017

An entire month of school has already passed, and our room has settled into a pleasant and predictable routine. The children all have new lessons to work on that range from animal stories, needs of plants, parts of a line, adding angles, adverbs, squaring, decimals and many more. Having diverse work going on, provides an opportunity to learn from watching others.

We have continued our Great Lessons, with the Time Line of Life. This shows the sequence of life on earth from a single cell, to plants, insects, animals and humans. This was followed with the history lesson, the long black strip. The long black strip is a stunning visual that shows how long the earth was in existence before the first human arrived. These exciting stories spark imaginations and inspire research. The youngest students are choosing something from the time line that they want to know more about to be introduced to research.

New friendships are emerging. It's great to watch the students branching out, and working with classmates they are just getting to know. We wished Malcolm and Molly Slawnik bon voyage, as they have headed off to Sydney, Australia until mid February. We look forward to exchanging letters with them in their absence. It will be exciting to learn about their adventures from the photos and tales they have promised to share.

September 21, 2017

The beginning of a fresh, new school year, is full of hope, opportunity and vitality.

Our classroom environment is beautifully prepared and the children enter with anticipation, excitement to greet friends, old and new, as they unpack all of their carefully selected supplies. We meet together to establish what the basic expectations for our community will be. Conversations are had about the balance of Freedom and Responsibly and how that translates at a very practical level. Together we establish our class creed, discussing how we want to feel and what actions will promote those feelings. Grace and Courtesy Lessons are given so the children are comfortable with the general "how-to's". Mentors are provided to help support new classmates. The Creation Story is given, the starting point to all of history, science, life and existence.

Learning the basics, such as each other's names, how to record daily work choices, and the time are reinforced. Lessons are given, some new, others in review to help clear the cobwebs that have settled in over summer. Gradually the specialists work their magic into our days.

A comfortable rhythm is starting to settle in. Just like the monarch butterfly that emerged from its chrysalis on a recent morning in our room, we too have the opportunity to soar and explore the world in the year to come.

This page last updated on 4/12/2018.

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5363 N Long Lake Rd. | Traverse City, MI | 49685 (p) 231.929.9325 | (f) 231.929.9384 | email: learn@traversechildrenshouse.org